Illegal bear products seized in shop raids

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 October, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 October, 1994, 12:00am

DESPITE strict controls to halt the sale of illegal bear products, more than $500,000 worth of suspected illicit items have been seized in the past five months.

Undercover investigators from the Agriculture and Fisheries Department (AFD) took the bear gall bladders and other unlicensed items, including bile powder and crystals, during inspections of Chinese medicine shops throughout the territory.

In total 58 gall bladders, claimed to be from bears but still awaiting chemical testing for positive identification, and 0.32 kilograms of bear powder, were seized.

The AFD said the problem was under control despite the continued discovery of the illegal products. The seizures were low considering that 1,080 shops were inspected.

'From the quantity seized and the tight registration system administered by the AFD, it is believed the illegal trade in these items in Hong Kong is kept under strict control,' said Richard Chan Ping-kwong the AFD's senior conservation officer.

Two animal rights welfare groups, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said they thought new rules introduced by the department had greatly reduced the sale of illegal bear products. But they thought it was optimistic to think that the illicit trade was totally under control.

The bear parts are used in traditional cures for ailments like liver problems, heart trouble and colds.